What is Communism?

Communism is, in its purest concept, a political ideology where there are no social classes and almost all resources of a country are collectively owned by the people rather than individuals.

History of Communism

The concept we know today as “communism” stems from a long history and various schools of thought. Though communism is still considered a more modern political ideology in terms of human history, the first concept of a classless society actually traces as far back as Ancient Greece. In his 380 B.C. dialogue, “The Republic”, Plato wrote about people sharing all of their property, wives and children without regards to class or wealth status. Later on in the 1500s, English writer Thomas More also wrote about a society who shared common property fairly and evenly, in his work “Utopia”. Still, the true father of communist ideology is considered to be Karl Marx, author of “The Communist Manifesto” and other works on the subject. In fact, nearly all modern forms of communism are based on “Marxism”, that is, Marx’s own ideals.

Arguably the most famous communist government began when the Bolshevik party took control (operating under the slogan “Workers of the World, Unite!”) in Russia in 1912. This was considered the world’s first “Marxist” state, also known as the Soviet Union. Especially in the Soviet Union’s early years, communism gained support and popularity around the world. But by the 1980s and early 1990s, communist regimes began losing power and many were dismantled.

Functionality of Communism

Communism often sounds like the ideal form of government in theory, but in practice it has a history of not working so well. Technically speaking, there has never actually been a truly “communist” country due to the difficulties that naturally arise. These include (among other things) differences in work ethic (if person A is receiving the same amount of resources as person B, why should person B work any harder?), lack of economic growth (no surplus products or wealth, since all is ideally being used) and, as with many other forms of government, corruption among politicians. In contrast to democracies and republics, communist leaders often remain in power indefinitely and thus have more control.

Modern-Day Examples

As mentioned above, there has never actually been a truly communist country. In fact, most of today’s “communist” countries like China, Vietnam, Cuba and Laos have adopted capitalistic practices to achieve economic growth. In other nations like Russia and Ukraine, communist political parties remain but are currently not in power.

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